Asbestos and fire damage keeps tenants from returning to Savoy Apartments

Asbestos and fire damage keeps tenants from returning to Savoy Apartments

YAKIMA, Wash.-- The fire at Savoy Apartments in late October has left tenants wondering when they'll be able to live in the building again. Repairs have yet to be done.

Building owner Aaron Stewart said he was waiting for the building to be turned back over to him before he could do anything.

“There’s been a little bit of confusion as to whether the building has been turned over or not. I just got verbal confirmation from one of the fire inspectors, this morning, that the building has been turned back over to us,” said Stewart.

But, Fire Marshall and Code Administration Manager Joe Caruso said that the building was turned back over to Stewart hours after the fire.

“According to our fire department records, the building was turned back over verbally on the telephone to Mr. Stewart the night of the fire, approximately 7:30 p.m. at night in that area," said Caruso.

To make matters worse, upon inspection of the building, asbestos was found, which has kept tenants from retrieving their belongings, in the meantime.

“There’s considerable work that has to be done. So, the danger is that there’s no utilities, fire damage, and people cannot be in it until everything is brought back in through permits, rebuilding, remediation of asbestos,” said Caruso.

When asked about what tenants should do until they can move back in, Stewart said he and his team have done their best.

“My understanding is that more than half of them have already found conditional housing. Our property manager and a local team there have spent countless hours making phone calls and assisting the tenants that have not found housing. But there's only so much we can do for them,” said Stewart.

But, Susan Lind, who's now homeless because of the fire and asbestos, feels otherwise. She said Stewart should provide temporary housing until repairs are complete.

“Aaron, you're wrong dude. You were born with a silver spoon," said Lind.

Stewart said he would like for building repairs to be done by December 1, but that he cannot give an actual date as to when tenants should expect to be able to return to their apartments.

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